With the Star Wars franchise successfully reinvigorated following last year’s Episode 8: The Force Awakens, the Walt
Disney Co., the new owners of Lucasfilms, faced a new hurdle this past holiday season: the cinematic introduction of an independent Star Wars film not part of the main Jedi/Skywalker saga. With the financial success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it appears the franchise has found its footing for expanding the universe cinematically.
As others have noted, the movie more closely follows the beats and feel of a war or heist film than the more mythic, epic feel of the main series. Taking a throwaway line from opening crawl of the original Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope – “During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR…”) Disney built this film to tell that story.
Briefly, Felicity Jones plays loner Jyn Erso whose father, a gifted scientist, happens to have been forced by the Empire to use his knowledge to build the planet-destroying Death Star. Abandoned when her father was taken and her mother killed, she eventually is recruited by the nascent Rebellion (after rescuing her from being a captive of the Empire) to track down her father and the blueprints for the weapon. She forms a team of rebels to join her on the quest. The story climaxes with the epic Battle of Scarif, as Jyn attempts to transmit the plans to the Rebellion.
Spoiler alert for paragraph immediately after the image below!
I should note that even minor characters from the series are brought back, most notably in the Battle of Scarif sequence, as many of the rebel fighters seen in the Death Star battle in A New Hope appear in this film, courtesy of unused footage from the earlier 1977 film.
While some have exhorted that “This is the best Star Wars ever!”, I wouldn’t quite go that far—while ultimately poignant, the characters frankly aren’t quite as memorable. (In my book, Daisy Ridley set a very high bar as a Star Wars protagonist in her portrayal of Rey in The Force Awakens, making her a worthy successor to Luke, Leia, Han of the original trilogy.)
Minor spoiler alert here: